SAN DIEGO — Dave Dawson spread the gospel of conservatism to San Diego radio listeners for more than five years--and his consistently high ratings made KSDO-AM (1130) management happy. Very happy.
So happy, in fact, that when Dawson left a month ago for Kansas City, Jack Merker, the news-talk station's program director, immediately set out to find a replacement who would please local Archie Bunkers--and incense everyone else in town--as much as Dawson did.
Well, he seems to have succeeded. Stacy Taylor, who comes to San Diego from KING-AM (1090) in Seattle, brings with him an eight-year history of conservative controversy that rivals Dawson's.
"I think if they were doing a life story on him in Hollywood, it would be filmed by 18th Century Fox," Merker said.
Taylor, however, questions that assessment.
"It's kind of dicey to figure out what is what," said Taylor, 37, who will be host of the noon-to-3 p.m. talk show recently vacated when Roger Hedgecock took over Dawson's 9 a.m.-to-noon shift.
"But I don't think if you ran through the entire spectrum of issues, you'd say I'm one thing or another. Someone recently told me that Dave Dawson is conservative because he's anti-Semitic. I, on the other hand, have always been very pro-Israel.
"At the same time, though, I've always questioned the integrity of the Soviet Union. I'm more concerned with the missiles they have aimed at us than the missiles we have aimed at them.
"I'm very skeptical of everything, I guess. But if you're asking whether I'm as far to the right as Dave Dawson, I'm not."
Here are Taylor's opinions on some of the day's top issues:
On South Africa: "That's a real cause celebre. I wonder what all the teeth-gnashing is all about. I'm not saying that the situation there doesn't warrant concern, but given all the other heinous political situations around the world, why single that one out?
"Apartheid has become a political issue. There are quite a few black Americans who feel a kinship with South African blacks, and because politicians have learned not to underestimate the power of black voters, the issue has gotten out of hand."
On capital punishment: "I'm definitely in favor of it. It may not be a deterrent to crime, but it's a healing process to the community; a vengeance thing."
On AIDS sufferers: "I think there's good reason to believe they should be quarantined. I don't think it's a civil rights issue; no one was concerned with Typhoid Mary's civil rights. Like AIDS, her disease was highly contagious, and efforts were made to control it. I'm not sure shaking hands with an AIDS victim is dangerous, but I wouldn't want him preparing my hamburger."
On controlling the border with Mexico: "I think the border should be inviolate, if you will. In terms of immigration reform, it's unfair to pass any legislation that would open the border and allow illegal immigrants to stay in the United States while those who have been attempting to go through the right channels have had to wait seven or eight years."
Taylor also shares Dawson's affinity for generating controversy.
In a talk show career that spans eight years and five radio stations around the country, Taylor has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to raise tempers.
In Dayton, Ohio, his on-air investigation of police corruption prompted Mayor Paul J. Leonard to petition both station management and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that he be fired.
Taylor said he has received more death threats than he cares to remember.
And radio columnists from Tampa to Seattle have, at various times, used these words to describe Stacy Taylor: arrogant, sassy, abrasive, hard-nosed, and even racist, but above all, controversial.
But Taylor insists that he never set out to be any of those things--he merely expresses his opinions.
"I don't think controversy for controversy's sake is very sustaining in good radio," Taylor said. "It's like walking through a room naked: the first time you get everyone's attention, and after that, they're on to you.
"I couldn't, in good conscience, take a position that I didn't really believe strongly in. But there are obviously issues that are divisive, and if I see a fissure, I don't mind applying a little pressure to see if I can rip it apart."
That's why he's glad he's coming to San Diego--and KSDO.
"I've basically been told I can say whatever I want to, and I look forward to that kind of freedom," Taylor said. "That's why I left KING: there's a corporate philosophy at that station that, like the community of Seattle, tends to be very polite, genteel and liberal.
"And since the corporate headquarters are one floor above the radio station, it's easy to imagine that philosophy permeating the entire structure.
"It made things very constraining; KING is a very pleasant, nice place to work, but it's not very stimulating. I need a little freedom, and hopefully I'll find it here."